How-to Guide: Japan Working Visa Application

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At the beginning of April 2019, I finally received my working visa that allows me, as the title says it all, to legally work as a full-time employee for adidas Japan. If you’ve seen some other blog posts that I have written already, you would know that for the past 7–8 months, I was actually an intern for adidas, here in Tokyo.

So, to sum it all up, I had a student visa, changed to a designated activities visa for the purpose of my internship, and then changed again to a working visa. I invite you to see my different guides if you’re not yet ready to start working.

That also means, the paperwork I had to submit might be slightly different from someone that has to apply from abroad, but I will still try to give you as much information as I possibly can.

Before I give you the list of all the documents, please keep in mind these few rules:

All your documents must be in English or Japanese.
If not, you must be able to provide an official translation of those.

Most documents should be the original ones, not a copy.

Make sure to fill everything in the forms you submit — and check that your company also fills it properly.
Even when the answer is 0 (e.g: years of business experience) you must not leave anything blank.

1. Application form

This will depend whether you are already in Japan or not. If you are not yet in Japan, you will need your company to submit a Certificate of Eligibility, that you will take with you to the embassy with the other documents.

If you’re already in Japan, it’s faster/easier. You just need to fill the application form that you can find right here, check #7 if you are going to work in a marketing/sales/finance kind of position.

2. Diplomas & grades

Again, these have to be originals and in English/Japanese. The Japanese immigration will keep the documents for records, so make sure to have copies for yourself or to ask your university for extra original copies just in case.

To my knowledge, without a university diploma, it is not possible to be granted a working visa, unless you fall in the category of some special visas for low-skilled jobs, but I guess that if you’re reading this, it’s not your case.

3. Japanese ID card (if already in Japan) + passport

4. An official picture (3x4 cm)

5. The company latest’s withholding tax report

In Japanese, 給与所得の源泉徴収票等の法定調書合計表 .

It’s a document that your company is creating every year and the immigration wants to check whether the company you are applying to is legit or not.

6. Your company history document

In Japanese, 履歴事項全部証明書.

Again, a document provided by your company, for the same purpose as above.

7. Employment contract

The contract between you and the company that details the salary, duration of the mission, working hours etc…

8. Company brochure

If your company has a brochure/pamphlet that describes its activities, management team, history etc… it is perfect.
If you don’t have any brochure in hand — it was my case — you can simply print some pages of the website.

9. Optional: A cover letter

Although it is optional, I highly recommend that you write a cover letter for the application. It has to show your motivation to work in Japan and the reasons behind it. It doesn’t have any set format, so you can simply write it in a word document, addressed to the “Minister of Justice”.

Once you have all those documents, you have to bring those to the immigration bureau (or embassy if you’re abroad) and wait a few weeks for the results. If you are in a hurry and have to start working within a month, I recommend that you use a certified lawyer to bring the documents for you, as it might take longer if you submit it by yourself.

So, a question you might ask yourself is:
How can I also get a 5-year working visa?

Visas are not scientific procedures. You might get between 1 and 5 years on your visa and not really know why. You have to keep in mind that there is always a person taking the decision and so, you have to convince him/her. Here are a few reasons that might explain how I got mine:

  • I applied for 5 years! Might sound stupid but if you don’t apply for 5, you won’t get it.
  • I have a master degree from a Japanese University (Rikkyo). It surely helps as almost any Japanese person knows about it.
  • I wrote a cover letter, while it is optional. Basically I treated this visa application as a job application. Lawyers will usually not force you to do it but I think it is quite important to do so. Again, you have to convince someone that knows little to nothing about you. On top of that, lawyers get more business if the visas are shorter, don’t they? ;)
  • It is not my first visa in Japan. I had a student visa twice and an internship visa once.
  • I am working for a big company and not a startup. You might even have more chances if your company is a famous Japanese one (think JAL, Mitsubishi etc…).

Now that you have all the guidelines, it’s your turn to get that working visa! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any tips, but please keep in mind that I am not a certified lawyer, just someone who have spent a lot of time in the immigration office …

More about the author — Baptiste Delannoy

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